Martyr. Tarsicius probably suffered martyrdom in the second half of the 3d century or the beginning of the 4th. The most ancient document concerning Tarsicius is a poem by Pope damasus i (366–384) telling how the saint, while carrying the Blessed Sacrament, was attacked by a pagan mob. Rather than allow the Eucharist to be profaned, Tarsicius suffered death by stoning. He was buried in the cemetery of Pope Callistus on the Appian Way. In the 6th century the Passio s. Stephani papae erroneously indicated that Tarsicius had been Pope Stephen's acolyte. More probably the martyr was a deacon, for Pope Damasus compared him to the deacon protomartyr, St. stephen, and deacons usually carried the Eucharist from the Pope's Mass to the presbyters of the principal Roman churches as a sign of unity. However, he may have been an acolyte or a layman commissioned to carry the Eucharist to Christian prisoners during persecution.
Feast: Aug. 15.
Bibliography: f. rolfe, Tarsicius, The Boy Martyr of Rome in the Diocletian Persecution, A.D. CCCXXX (London 1972). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, rev. ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4v. (New York 1956) 3:335. f. l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London 1957) 1322.